“What you see before you today is the youth of your city crying out,” said a speaker at a rally hosted by a youth anti-violence group called Ice the Beef. “Crying out for a change in your city.”
“We need to put down the guns,” one girl said to a crowd of onlookers. “Stop shooting. Stop the killing.”
Ice the Beef called it an emergency rally. Members felt compelled to speak out after the shooting of a 9-year-old boy in New Haven on Tuesday. It happened when the boy was in his parents’ car as they were driving around Foote and Ashmun Streets looking for his basketball that was stolen earlier that day.
Shots were fired at their car. One of the bullets hit the boy in his pelvis.
“It hurt,” said Eliza Vargas, one of the rally organizers. “I lost a brother two years ago…Our kids are too young to experience this. That’s why we’re out here fighting.”
“I want to make an imprint so when I leave to go to the military and college, I want the community to know that I helped and tried to make a difference,” said Juan Patterson, a member of Ice the Beef.
Speakers led the crowd in several chants:
“S.T.O.P. the violence!” they screamed. “Enough is enough!”
Members of Ice the Beef brought in members and leaders of other community organizations as well — trying to unite the groups for a common purpose.
“This is us coming together so we can help our city!” Eliza said.
The 9-year-old boy who was shot will be okay. Police have not yet said who shot him. They ask anyone with any information to give them a call.
Ice the Beef plans another rally and march later this month.